Scroll through Instagram, and you’ll be inundated by the number of photographers offering their take on the latest edgy trend. As a creative, it’s hard to stand out. Enter Eroded Flowers aka 19-year-old Denise Chibs. Combining her eye for fashion and styling with her passion for intriguing imagery, she provides a portrayal of life in East London that is, as her pseudonym suggests, raw and honest.
However, as you’ll find out in our interview below she’s not following any trend, she’s giving us glimpses into pockets of her life. From her images of her friends taken in a launderette to capturing the energy of pals on a night out – each image tells a little more about her story. In a world of under-representation of people of colour in fashion, it’s reassuring to see a young photographer bringing something different to the table, celebrating real people and real lives.
Here she shares some of her recent snaps and reveals more about the stories behind them. And in case you’re wondering, there’s not a single Thrasher tee in sight.
Where did you grow up?
I live with my mum and younger brother. We’ve lived in Leyton, East London for the most part but – I’ve moved around loads. North Woolwich, East Ham, Ilford – the list is endless! Moving from council houses to refuges to private renting to shared accommodation to our own house, it hasn’t been easy but it’s made me very resilient and adaptable.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I like going to galleries, but I honestly just shoot what I like. I don’t look at a particular artist and think “that’s cool, I’m going to copy that”. My friends are my biggest inspiration – 98% of my photographs feature them. They’re not pretentious and don’t try to be cool. I’d like to think that resonates in the photos too. The fact that they look natural and calm as opposed to trying to convince everyone that they’re edgy and popular (weed smoking on camera in a Thrasher jumper vibe – that look is so tired and rinsed out).
Tell us about your favourite series of photographs.
Probably the images of Tamera, Tamara, and Aliyah. I loved the colours and the concept behind it which was unity amongst black girls. At the time I hadn’t seen many street style photos of dark girls and wanted to switch that up a bit also.
We love how raw the subjects are in your shots. How does your upbringing inspire your work now?
I’ve always lived in East London, so when I shoot I rarely venture out of it. Although some of my shoots feature lots of bright colours – I like shooting people in naturalistic scenes too I think it’s more relatable.
Being from East London, what do you think about the trend of using council estates as the setting for fashion photography?
I think it’s embarrassing. Unless you’ve grown up or lived on council estates please don’t use other people’s struggles as a fashion statement. People living in council housing are ridiculed and mocked, so for ‘Tom from Essex’ to come down in the daytime to shoot in Brixton with his air forces and crisp Nike tracksuit to THEN go back to his 8-bedroom luxury house with a swimming pool? It doesn’t make sense. It’s odd to me because people are being mocked by their reality, yet others are being commended on Instagram for making it look “cool” and jumping on the “roadman” bandwagon.
What do you try to capture in your imagery?
It differs depending on the photograph. It could simply be a nice pair of trainers or a someone’s emotions. I like to play around with levels and proxemics too because they tell a story about the subjects and the relationship with one another.
What are your plans for the future and how do you hope to evolve as a photographer?
I want to work alongside a magazine soon, that’ll be fun. In terms of photography, I just need to experiment more and get out of my comfort zone, that’s the only way I’ll learn and improve.
If you want to see more of Eroded Flowers work head over to her Instagram.
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